Depressed by a book of bad poetry…
It’s been a while since I wrote about a poem here. I’ve been reading James Wright, because he writes so beautifully about Ohio and I’ve been wanting to get down to his level of detail and appreciation. I keep thinking about my favorite poem by him, “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm,” and about the irony of the last line (“I have wasted my life.”).
Last week I got an e-mail about work that felt a bit like what our housemate Miriam used to call a “letter of ruin.” It wasn’t, but it felt like that at first. It blamed me for things that worry me. So I’ve been writing a response and compiling information for my annual report, all of which is taking more of my time than it probably should. I feel like I’ve been missing June, although the weather has been so cool and rainy that it’s less inviting outside, anyway.
The Kokosing River is out of its banks near our house, although so far the sump pump is keeping the storm water out of our basement. The farmers can’t make any hay, because even when the sun shines, the fields are still so wet they can’t take a tractor through them. Even the ones who grow what we like to call marshmallows–the big, white-plastic-wrapped bales of hay–can’t get out there to roll up any bales. Here’s a picture of a corn field near the turn-off to Gambier:
Today I finished the final draft of my annual report. There’s lots more to do at work, but I’m taking a few days off, at least mentally. As if in tune with my mood, the sun has come out. I found this James Wright poem and it describes my mental state right now, pushing away from the desk, ready to go out and see what new kinds of water-loving bugs might have hatched out in our back gardens:
Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me
Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants
Who are walking single file up the fence post,
Carrying small white petals,
Casting shadows so frail that I can see through them.
I close my eyes for a moment and listen.
The old grasshoppers
Are tired, they leap heavily now,
Their thighs are burdened.
I want to hear them, they have clear sounds to make.
Then lovely, far off, a dark cricket begins
In the maple trees.
I may feel like an old grasshopper, not much inclined to trying leaping heavily, but iridescent flies and dragonflies are darting around the garden excitedly, making the most of this hour of sunshine.